Nut milks contain different kinds of stabilizing gums to make them thicker and appear more “milk-like.” Many people with food sensitivities cannot tolerate these stabilizing gums, and create antibodies to them.
These antibodies move through the body and attack body tissue wherever it is weakest. This results in an autoimmune cascade that leads to disease. Often symptoms are silent for many years as the antibodies attack bodily tissue and disease develops.
Dr. Aristo Vojdani is a pioneering world expert on the topic of immune responses to food. Below is his list of the most common stabilizing gums, listed from the least reactive to the most reactive. This list is from You Can Fix Your Brain by Dr. Tom O’Bryan, Chapter 9: Biochemistry: Food as Medicine.
- Guar gum (sometimes called Gellan gum): Can help with blood sugar and feeling of fullness. Made from the guar bean. A little goes a long way. Can cause digestive issues in high quantities. Some hydrolyzed forms may assist in healing small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
- Gum tragacanth: Tragacanth gum is a plant substance that stimulates the movement of the intestines. It can cause breathing problems for people who are sensitive to quillaia bark. Be sure to drink water when consuming foods with tragacanth gum. Take at least one hour away from medications, as this thick gel can prevent absorption of medications.
- Beta-glucan: Extracted from oat, barley, bacteria, and yeast. Characterization of Beta-glucan shows its potential as a stabilizer, as well as a fat replacer, water-binding agent, oil holding agent, and whipping agent. Optimal doses of Beta-glucans have not yet been set. When taken orally can occasionally cause diarrhea or nausea.
- Xanthum gum: can be cultured on growth mediums of soy, dairy, wheat, or corn, so avoid if sensitive or allergic to these foods. The government does not require disclosure of food medium sources on food packages. For example, a product labeled “gluten-free” or “dairy-free” that contains xanthum gum may contain xanthum gum that is made from gluten or dairy!
- Locust bean gum: Comes from the carob seeds of the carob tree (a member of the pea family). Can help with cholesterol and blood sugar according to a number of studies. But it can prevent absorption of beneficial nutrients and have some allergic side effects, too.
- Mastic gum: This is a resin sourced from the trunk of an evergreen shrub found mainly on the Greek island of Chios. May have some antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and may also cause allergic reactions of chest pain, hives, or rash. All stabilizing gums are largely unregulated, so monitor your body’s response when using them. Avoid mastic gum.
- Carrageenan: particularly destructive to the digestive system, carrageenan triggers an immune response similar to your body’s response to pathogens like salmonella…creating inflammation, ulcerations, and bleeding. No one should touch the stuff!
Always avoid the last 2 gums listed on this list. And remember that in large quantities, all stabilizing gums can contribute to triggering leaky gut and digestive issues. Best solution? Make your own at home. No time? Then read labels and choose organic varieties carefully! Rice milk, flax milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, cashew milk, coconut milk – whatever you choose – always buy organic.
Wishing you health & happiness,
FMHC: NB & GCP
I am a certified functional medicine health coach (FMHC), here to help you with wellness coaching, nutritional and lifestyle programs, Vibrant Labs microchip testing, detoxification protocols, hair testing mineral analysis (HTMA), heavy metals, wheat & gluten disorders and with a variety of physical & autoimmune conditions.
Learn more and contact me through my website: www.vhhealth.com.
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Nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat or cure any condition. It does not constitute medical advice.